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UCUCC will continue with hybrid worship, meetings

Kyna Shilling expects that University Congregational UCC in Seattle, which just began in-person worship Sept. 26, will continue with online worship and meetings, too.

Top two: In hybrid service, Catherine Foote, pastor, can go from opening the service in video on her farm, letting out her sheep, to preaching in the pulpit in person. 

Bottom two: Amy Roon can bless the elements of communion at the church and at home with her son Benjamin 

Photos from University Congregational UCC Facebook Page

It will be going hybrid—combining in person and online worship—and likely continuing to have worship and programs on both platforms.

“We have had increased participation since going online with livestreaming worship.  Pre-pandemic, we had 250 attending plus children, but viewership has been about 250 to 300 screens, so with couples and families, it’s likely 400,” said Kyna, who began as director of finance and operations just five weeks before the pandemic.

UCUCC did a survey and found that live stream was not everyone’s “cup of tea, and people missed in-person worship, but many appreciated having it as is evident in the worship viewing being more than those attending pre-pandemic.”

The survey found that eight to 10 percent will continue to be part of online worship only.

Some join who do not live geographically near. Some found it convenient. Some lacked transportation. Elderly who are homebound found it a way to participate. Some won’t return until their children are vaccinated.

“Everyone’s risk budget is full,” Kyna noted.

“People who retire and move to Arizona can continue to be involved because of online activities,” she said.

“In the future, people who do not feel well may more likely opt to stay home and participate online,” she added.

Worship went online in March 2020.

“We did not come back in person sooner because of tech upgrades we needed to do both hybrid and in person,” she said. “We also had a COVID Team to assess when it would be safe to return.

Our pastors, lay worship team, music director and video editor prepared the livestream worship for Facebook and YouTube by Saturday evening.

It involved uploading files to a central location.  There were 50 to 100 files, because members submitted prayers and photos of themselves for passing of the peace.

“There was a new slide show of members each week,” she said. “It helped members feel connected to the community.”

The in-person worship planners also decided to have colored cards that slip behind the nametags to indicate comfort/consent about personal contact: Green means “ask me first, but I’m okay with hugs.” Red means “I’m keeping my distance.” “Yellow means “ask me my preferences.”

“It’s a helpful visual reminder not to make assumptions and to ask/respect everyone’s comfort levels before and after worship,” Kyna said.

While worship both in person and online is now happening, youth group is also hybrid on Sunday mornings, both live and online.

Staff—some live in Tacoma and some in Everett—plan to save their commuting, continue safety precautions and be in the office just two days a week, rather than five.

“Staff have learned to communicate efficiently online,” said Kyna, who grew up in and is a member at Plymouth UCC in Seattle. She has been active in the Conference as manager of the Facebook page, on the Communications Task Force, and chair of the Stewardship Committee until January when she will go on maternity leave.

Child care during worship will continue to be outdoors for those under five.

The building is again open for rentals, including some justice organizations that have used the building.

The rest of church activities are online—committee meetings, Christian formation, adult forum, workshops, book groups, social justice speakers and panels, racial-justice discussions, environmental action groups, and men’s and women’s fellowships.

Being online has increased participation in groups and committees, she added.

For information, call 206-524-2322 or email


Copyright © Fall 2021 - Pacific Northwest Conference United Church of Christ News


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